Trump spends United States taxpayers’ money on wars

This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Adds Another Former Goldman Sachs Official to His Administration

19 March 2017

James Donovan’s area of expertise, like most Goldman Sachs folks, is not economics or finance, but law – because that’s how Goldman Sachs makes its money: by evading, controlling and writing the laws.

By Miriam Pemberton in the USA:

More money for wars, less for everything else

Monday 20th March 2016

Trump’s $54 billion increase on military spending is causing plenty of anxiety in the US, writes MIRIAM PEMBERTON

MILLIONS of Americans are feeling uneasy, disgruntled, and insecure. That message sounded loud and clear throughout the turbulent election year.

The Donald Trump administration’s latest budget proposal isn’t likely to placate that.

It comes down to this: lots more money — $54 billion (£43.5bn) in fact — for the military bringing the total up to $639 billion.

That’s “one of the largest increases in defence spending in US history,” as the president put it in his recent speech to the United States Congress. And less money for pretty much everything else.

Giving the military more money seems like a no-brainer way to increase security. But apply a little brain power and you quickly see what’s wrong with this idea.

It’s true, as Trump says, that our troops are having trouble “winning wars” like they used to.

But the Pentagon that sent them into war already has more money than it did during the George W Bush or the Ronald Reagan build-up years. And more money than the next seven countries put together. Besides, what will the military do with all that extra money?

It’s hard to say, because the Defence Department’s accounting systems are so poor that it’s the only federal agency that still can’t pass an audit. Its own Defence Business Board identified $125bn (£100.8bn) in Pentagon waste without breaking a sweat — though the Pentagon made sure to bury this report.

I’m suspicious of the $54 billion figure on other grounds, too. It happens to be 10 per cent of the current budget.

Did they arrive at this number based upon careful consideration of threats and the necessary tools to respond to them? Or did they come up with a nice big, round number to throw at the Pentagon and let them figure out how to spend it?

I think it’s the latter and that doesn’t make me feel safer.

Now let’s look at where they want to cut. Start with the State Department, whose total budget ($29bn) is dwarfed by the extra money they want to give to the Pentagon.

More than 100 retired generals recently put out a statement saying that cutting the diplomacy budget is a bad idea that threatens our security. After all, we’re more likely to go to war if we’re depriving ourselves of the tools to avoid it.

As general Jim Mattis put it back in 2013: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Mattis now heads the Pentagon.

Further, the military itself says climate change is an “urgent and growing” threat to our security.

The Trump budget would slash funding for the lead agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, in charge of protecting us from that threat.

It’s also hard to feel secure if you think the air you’re breathing and the water you’re drinking might be making you sick.

The same day Trump was telling Congress he’d protect our air and water, he was axing a Barack Obama administration clean water rule.

Another common source of anxiety and anger is the feeling you’ve been ripped off by some bank or retailer and there’s nothing you can do about it. Let’s watch those feelings multiply if the administration succeeds in zeroing out the budget for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And the list goes on. Imagine the rise in anxiety caused by cuts to the Labour Department’s efforts to protect US workers.

This Insecurity Budget is far from a done deal — the fight over it is likely to go on all year. We’ll need to stand up for a budget that protects our real security priorities every step of the way.

Miriam Pemberton is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and directs its Peace Economy Transitions Project.

Trump and his obscene war machine. The U.S. spends billions on un-winnable wars, sacrificing our safety: here.

TRUMP’S MILITARY BUILD-UP ‘PROMISES LITTLE FOR THE WORKING GRUNTS’ David Wood reports on how the big money appears to be going to the fancy weapons, while the troops carry old rifles. [HuffPost]

Theresa May’s secret Goldman Sachs pro-European Union speech leaked

This video from Britain says about itself:

Secret audio (leaked recording) of Goldman Sachs talk by Theresa May regarding Brexit

25 October 2016

Hillary Clinton is not the only politician having secret speeches for Goldman Sachs (and other) bankers for lots of money.

So is, eg, new British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.

By Padraic Flanagan in Britain, 22:48 Tuesday October 25th 2016:

Theresa May told bankers Brexit will force companies to leave UK, leaked tape shows

Theresa May privately warned that Brexit would force companies to leave the UK in a secret audience with bankers before the EU referendum, a recording leaked to the Guardian reveals. The then Home Secretary’s remarks to Goldman Sachs reveal her numerous concerns about Britain leaving the EU. They contrast starkly with her more measured public speeches at the time, the lukewarm nature of which angered Remain campaigners before the June vote.

Speaking at the bank in London on 26 May, Mrs May went further than her public remarks to explain the economic benefits of staying in the EU, telling staff it was time the UK took a lead in Europe and that she hoped voters would look to the future rather than the past.

Ms May’s pro-European Union public speeches may have been ‘lukewarm’, at least they were pro-Remain. So, they did not show as big a gap between ‘public and private views’ as in Ms Clinton, who now publicly criticizes Wall Street as she needs Bernie Sanders supporters‘ votes while secretly being sycophantic to bankers. See also Ms Clinton’s public-private gap about pipelines. Ms Clinton, now publicly against trade deals like TPP, which she used to support and on which she may flip-flop once again, reflecting her ‘private’ views, after the presidential election.

However, I would not be surprised if Ms May’s gap between ‘public and private views’ on other issues would be as least as big as Ms Clinton’s. In public, she has claimed to oppose tax dodging; while her banker husband privately helps tax dodgers. Will someone please leak Ms May’s secret speeches to bankers about tax dodging?

Ms May also claimed in public to care about poor people. I would not be really surprised if a Theresa May secret speech to Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank or something similar would be leaked, in which she would say to hell with poor people if caring about them would impede billionaires getting still richer.

British Prime Minister Theresa May once warned her fellow Conservatives of the perils of being known as the “nasty party.” But after 100 days in office, she is in danger of going further, turning the United Kingdom into the nasty country: here.

USA: Phil Murphy, the front-runner in New Jersey’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, faces new questions about his tenure at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs with the election just days away. The campaign of attorney Jim Johnson, Murphy’s closest competitor in the race, criticized Murphy for serving as president of Goldman Sachs Asia at a time when the division profited from an investment in Yue Yuen Industrial, a Taiwan-based shoemaker. Human rights groups claim to have documented widespread labor abuses by Yue Yuen, including the company docking workers’ already modest pay for mistakes and running factories where machines sometimes severed workers’ hands and fingers, according to an NJ Advance Media report: here.

Brexit: Goldman Sachs CEO wades into debate on second referendum: here.

Malaysian authorities on Monday filed criminal charges against the giant US investment bank, Goldman Sachs, over its involvement in the scandal surrounding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, that investment fund. Goldman Sachs received a massive $US600 million in fees—far higher than usual—for raising $6.5 billion in bonds and allegedly turning a blind eye to the corrupt use of the money: here.

European Union bigwig Barroso’s Goldman Sachs scandal gets bigger

This video says about itself:

EU ethics committee ‘should move fast’ on Barroso’s Goldman Sachs job

21 September 2016

European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has launched an unprecedented investigation into whether his predecessor, José Manuel Barroso, broke EU rules by taking a job at Goldman Sachs, the bank blamed for the economic crisis sparked in 2008. Juncker’s action came after EU ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, called on the Commission to clarify its position on the issue.

Emily O’Reilly gives FRANCE 24 her reaction to this latest development and tells us whether she thinks this revolving door between business and politics is feeding into a broader anti-EU sentiment.

After the illegal Bahamas offshore money news about European Union bigwig Ms Neelie Kroes, today again news on her ex-colleague Barroso.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Former European Union Commission President Barroso in more trouble yet

Today, 14:46

The contacts of José Manuel Barroso to the investment bank Goldman Sachs date back to the time when he was still President of the European Commission. That’s earlier than he had admitted. Barroso will now work for the US bank as a consultant.

The contacts appear from correspondence between Barroso and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, which is in the hands of the Portuguese newspaper Publico.

Barroso, according to the newspaper, during his presidency (November 2004 – November 2014) already had non-minuted meetings with people from the bank.


In an email of September 30, 2013 Blankfein thanks Barroso for their “productive talks” and he says that partners of the bank were delighted with the “extraordinarily fruitful meetings”. According to the newspaper executives of the bank have made on a confidential basis suggestions for changes in European policies, which were read by Mr Barroso’s cabinet with “great interest”.

One of Barroso’s advisers, according to the newspaper, was reluctant to record meetings between his boss and the bank in the European Commission’s books. Registration of such meetings was not mandatory at that time.


Barroso was discredited when it was announced that he had accepted a job at Goldman Sachs, while he should not have done consulting work with such a company after his political career according to the rules of the EC. The current committee chairman Juncker suggested this month an inquiry into the appointment, after fuss had been created about the case. Barroso may lose his pension rights.

However, Barroso’s EU pension money, though a lot, is little compared to the money he gets from Goldman Sachs.

I do not hear anyone about jailing Mr Barroso. Is he ‘too big to jail‘, like criminal bankers or polluting British Petroleum fat cats?

The bank played a major role in the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008, on the mortgage market in the USA. The bank helped the Greek government to money through risky financial constructions.

Update 1 November 2016: European ombudsman says Juncker gives Barroso just slap on the wrist.

US Republican Donald Trump, hedge fund and mafia candidate

This video about the USA says about itself:

Donald Trump‘s business links to the mob – BBC Newsnight

4 March 2016

Donald Trump now looks like the front-runner to be the Republican candidate for the US presidency. One of his big appeals is his business success – and his claim that his wealth means he can’t be bought and sold. But there’s evidence which not only casts doubt on Trump‘s wealth claims – but also reveals his history of business relationships with figures connected to organised crime. John Sweeney reports.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Trump names hedge fund boss as finance chairman

7 May 2016

Billionaire Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, announced Thursday that hedge fund boss Steven Mnuchin had agreed to become his national finance chairman for the general election campaign. Mnuchin will be tasked with raising as much as $1 billion for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The decision marks a shift in Trump’s campaign operations, which have largely self-funded and have relied more on free media coverage than paid advertisements. As of the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Trump campaign has spent about $48 million, of which $36 million came from a series of loans from the candidate, which could be repaid from future contributions. The remaining $12 million came from individual contributions.

The choice of Mnuchin is a demonstration of the cynical doubletalk that has become a trademark of the Trump campaign. While posturing as the defender of those devastated by the Wall Street crash and the dismal-to-nonexistent economic “recovery” under Obama, Trump has brought in as his finance chairman a Wall Street figure closely tied to the mass evictions and foreclosures that were characteristic of the subprime mortgage collapse.

“Steven is a professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background,” Trump said in a statement. “He brings unprecedented experience and expertise to a fundraising operation that will benefit the Republican Party and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton.” Actually, Mnuchin’s “experience” includes making financial contributions to Hillary Clinton for both her US Senate and presidential campaigns.

Mnuchin was a partner for 17 years at Goldman Sachs, the biggest and most influential Wall Street investment bank, which has supplied top Washington officials for decades, including the Treasury secretaries in the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

During his tenure at Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin contributed liberally to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton for US Senate in 2000 and 2006. He continued to support Clinton in her first presidential bid, giving the maximum of $2,300 in 2007. …

Like most Wall Street figures—and Trump himself—Mnuchin cultivated politicians in both parties, giving contributions to Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Steve Forbes and Mitt Romney, as well as Democrats including John Edwards, Charles Schumer, Al Gore and John Kerry. …

After leaving Goldman Sachs in 2009, Mnuchin moved to Los Angeles and launched OneWest Bank Group LLC, serving as president and CEO for six years, with significant financial backing from a group of billionaires including George Soros, a longtime backer of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. The bank was sold last year to CIT Group for $3.4 billion.

Mnuchin also opened a hedge fund, Dune Capital, which provided financing for several top-grossing Hollywood films, including Avatar, several iterations of the X-Men franchise, and the hideous pro-war film American Sniper.

As a banker, Trump’s new fundraising chief made a specialty of targeting the most vulnerable sections of borrowers, including the elderly and racial minorities. Among the facts reported in the press over the past 24 hours are the following:

· According to a judge in Long Island, OneWest Bank engaged in “harsh, repugnant and repulsive” acts in attempting to evict a couple from their home around Thanksgiving. In 2009 the judge erased $525,000 in mortgage debt as a penalty. He also called the bank’s conduct “inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious.”

· OneWest attempted to foreclose on an 89-year-old widow in California, Irene Jones, who said that the stress of repeated foreclosure threats had contributed to her husband’s depression and subsequent death.

· The bank changed the locks on a Minnesota woman, Leslie Park, during a blizzard, during which she returned home and discovered she could not gain shelter in her own home.

· The California Reinvestment Coalition found that OneWest’s reverse mortgage servicing subsidiary Financial Freedom was responsible for 39 percent of reverse mortgage foreclosures, although it held only 17 percent of the market for reverse mortgages, which are primarily contracted with the elderly. OneWest was thus foreclosing its elderly customers at twice the average rate.

· Of the 35,877 foreclosures the bank carried out over a six-year period in California, more than two-thirds took place in neighborhoods that were more than 50 percent nonwhite—black, Hispanic or Asian.

· In 2011, Mnuchin encountered “protests on the lawn of his Bel Air mansion by foreclosed homeowners angered at his lender’s handling of soured mortgages,” according to Bloomberg.

All in all, a record that explains the mutual attraction between the financier and the political con-man who is about to become the Republican presidential nominee, posing as the advocate of the downtrodden and dispossessed.

Trump accepted the endorsement of the West Virginia Coal Association, the very body that has directed the attack on the jobs, pensions and safety conditions of the state’s miners: here.

As it becomes increasingly likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate in the autumn, concern is growing in European capitals over the consequences. The fact that Trump’s ascendancy is of major international significance is recognised on all sides: here.

Goldman Sachs bank sued for ruining Greek economy?

This 2010 video from the USA is called Fox News Defends Goldman Sachs Fraud.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Greek debt crisis: Goldman Sachs could be sued for helping hide debts when it joined euro

Exclusive: A leading adviser to debt-riven countries has offered to help Athens recover some of the vast profits made by the investment bank

Jim Armitage and Ben Chu

Saturday 11 July 2015

Goldman Sachs faces the prospect of potential legal action from Greece over the complex financial deals in 2001 that many blame for its subsequent debt crisis.

A leading adviser to debt-riven countries has offered to help Athens recover some of the vast profits made by the investment bank.

The Independent has learnt that a former Goldman banker, who has advised indebted governments on recovering losses made from complex transactions with banks, has written to the Greek government to advise that it has a chance of clawing back some of the hundreds of millions of dollars it paid Goldman to secure its position in the single currency. …

Greece managed to keep within the strict Maastricht rules for eurozone membership largely because of complex financial deals created by the investment bank which critics say disguised the extent of the country’s outstanding debts.

Goldman Sachs is said to have made as much as $500m from the transactions known as “swaps”. It denies that figure but declines to say what the correct one is.

The banker who stitched it together, Oxford-educated Antigone Loudiadis, was reportedly paid up to $12m in the year of the deal. Now Jaber George Jabbour, who formerly designed swaps at Goldman, has told the Greek government in a formal letter that it could “right historical wrongs as part of [its] plan to reduce Greece’s debt”.

Mr Jabbour successfully assisted Portugal in renegotiating complex trades naively done with London banks during the financial crisis. His work helped trigger a parliamentary inquiry and cost many senior officials and politicians their jobs. It also triggered major compensation payments by banks to the Portuguese taxpayer.

Mr Jabbour, who now runs Ethos Capital Advisors, has also helped expose other cases including allegations against Goldman Sachs and Société Générale over their dealings with Libya relating to financial transactions that left the country’s taxpayers billions of dollars out of pocket. Both banks deny wrongdoing.

Based on publicly available information, he believes the size of the profit Goldman made on the transactions was unreasonable. Scrutiny and analysis of the documents and email exchanges could give Greece grounds to seek compensation and assess if the deals were executed for the sole purpose of concealing the country’s debts.

Greece’s membership of the euro gave it access to billions of easy credit which it was then incapable of paying back, leading to its current crisis. Lenders took its euro membership as a stamp of creditworthiness, but the true state of its economy was far less healthy.

Under Ms Loudiadis’s guidance, Goldman swapped debt issued by Greece in dollars and yen for euros which were priced at a historical exchange rate that made the debt look smaller than it actually was. The swaps reportedly made about 2 per cent of Greece’s debt disappear from its national accounts.

The size and structure of the deal enabled the bank to charge a far bigger fee than is usual in swap transactions, and Goldman persuaded Greece not to test the transaction with competitors to ensure it was getting good value for money.

Such deals were not uncommon among smaller countries attempting to enter the eurozone club, but they were stopped by the EU economic statistics agency Eurostat in 2008. Eurostat has said Greece did not report the Goldman Sachs transactions in 2008, when it and other countries were told to restate their accounts.

Two of the men in charge of the debt management agency of Greece at the time have argued the department did not understand what it was buying and lacked the expertise to judge the risks or costs.

One, Christoforos Sardelis, told Bloomberg news agency that Ms Loudiadis offered one swap which had what is known as a “teaser rate”, or three-year grace period. But the Greek official realised three months after signing the deal that it was far more complicated than he first thought – a situation exacerbated by the 9/11 attacks’ downward impact on global interest rates. While Goldman reworked the deal, Greece continued to lose heavily.

Saul Haydon Rowe, a partner at Turing Experts, a team of former bankers who advise in court cases involving bank derivatives, said: “Greece would have to unpick the trades completely and look into what advice was given, and how much Goldman might have expected to make over the course of the transaction.

“For a legal action to go ahead, Greece would have to show that Goldman Sachs said something it knew was untrue or which it did not care was true or not.”

GOLDMAN TO PAY $5 BILLION In a settlement over the bank’s deceptive loan practices during 2008. But The New York Times examines how the bank could end up paying millions less. [Ryan Grenoble, HuffPost]

United States politician Ted Cruz, Mark Fiore satirical animation

This satirical animation video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

Ted Cruz‘s “Imagine Republican Dough”

30 March 2015

Now that Ted Cruz has officially announced he’s running for president, the seal has been broken and more will quickly follow. Oh, and besides being a presidential candidate, now Senator Cruz will be signing up for Obamacare. Nothing at all hypocritical about that, right? Cruz’s wife is taking a temporary leave from her job at Goldman Sachs so poor ol’ Ted won’t have the health insurance to which he has grown accustomed.

Ted Cruz Welcomes The Endorsement Of Anti-Gay Hate Group Official And Radio Host Sandy Rios: here.

NYT: TED CRUZ FAILED TO DISCLOSE GOLDMAN LOAN IN SENATE RUN “Neither loan appears in reports the Ted Cruz for Senate Committee filed with the Federal Election Commission, in which candidates are required to disclose the source of money they borrow to finance their campaigns.” [NYT]

Goldman Sachs bank accused of sexism

This video from Scotland says about itself:

Melissa Benn at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

19 August 2014

Airbrushed supermodels, unrealistically skinny celebrities, casual sexism in the media. Why, despite everything, are women still not paid equally or properly represented on corporate boards? These are the questions posed by Melissa Benn in her book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? In this event, filmed live at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival, Benn discusses the latest research with Chloe Combi, and presents a positive manifesto for mothers and daughters.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Banker sues Goldman Sachs claiming she was ‘victimised for getting pregnant’

Sonia Pereiro Mendez was said to have been ‘publicly mocked’ for being a woman – a situation that worsened after she revealed she was expecting a baby

Rob Hastings

Friday 06 March 2015

A top Goldman Sachs banker is suing the firm and three of her bosses, claiming that she was denied millions of pounds in bonuses after she became pregnant.

Sonia Pereiro Mendez was said in a tribunal to have been “publicly mocked” simply for being a woman – a situation that worsened after she revealed she was expecting a baby, resulting in “gratuitous and implicitly derogatory references to her childcare arrangements”.

Ms Pereiro Mendez, an executive director in distressed investing at Goldman who is now pregnant with her second child, is seeking damages from the investment bank for allegedly suffering repeated sex discrimination over the past five years.

She says her salary and bonuses were cut because her employers believed that “given her pregnancy, she was no longer a significant long-term player”, despite doing her best to not let family matters affect her work.

“The claimant took exceptional measures in order to perform the tasks requested of her by Goldman Sachs during her maternity leave,” her claim states.

Ms Pereiro Mendez is also pursuing three superiors – Nicholas Pappas, European head of distressed trading, Simon Morris, global head of credit trading, and Bryan Mix, global head of loan trading – over the claims.

Read more:

The first rule of Goldman Sachs bonuses is: you do not talk about them…

Pay for 120 London bankers at Goldman Sachs rises to £2.6m

Goldman Sachs sparks outrage by paying staff highest UK bonuses

In a preliminary hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal today, Ms Pereiro Mendez’s legal team detailed how she had been at the company for more than a decade before her then manager, Allen Ukritnukun, started leaving her out of important meetings in 2010.

“He publicly mocked the claimant before certain of her male peers,” her claim says, adding that Mr Ukritnukun “made overtly sexist comments to the claimant including, on one occasion, a comment amounting to explicit sexual harassment.”

After she told colleagues she was pregnant with her first child in October 2011, Ms Pereiro Mendez was “sidelined” and her pay was reduced, she says.

Her basic salary had been set at £250,000 in January 2010 but two years later it was cut to £192,000.

In January 2011 her bonus was £200,000, but she says that employees in her position are entitled to 5 per cent of the profit they bring in, meaning she should have received an additional £910,000.

And in January 2012, after she had disclosed her pregnancy, she was told she would not get a bonus at all, a decision she claims was “discriminatory on the grounds of sex or pregnancy”. She argues she should have received an extra £200,000 in 2013 and £450,000 more in 2014.

The case was adjourned until a full hearing next month.

A Goldman Sachs investment banker raped an Irish tourist because he wanted sex on his birthday and “was going to do whatever he had to to get it”, a court has heard: here.

Goldman Sachs bankster claims $8 million not enough for his fraud

This video from the British parliament is called Glenda Jackson on Margaret Thatcher’s legacy… of ‘greed is good’.

By Andre Damon:

Former Goldman trader involved in fraudulent activities says $8 million bonus too low

21 June 2014

A former Goldman Sachs trader who helped the bank bet against toxic mortgage-backed securities it was palming off to investors is attempting to sue his former employer because he says his multimillion-dollar pay package did not reflect the billions of dollars the bank earned as a result of his trades.

Deeb Salem, the former head of trading for Goldman’s Structured Products Group, complained that he received an $8.25 million bonus in 2010, though he said informal comments made by company executives led him to believe he would get closer to $13 million that year.

Salem filed a petition with the New York State Supreme Court last week, demanding that he get an additional $7 million from Goldman, after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority—a Wall Street self-regulator—ruled in favor of Goldman in an earlier arbitration.

Salem claims his pay was docked because, as noted in a written warning he received, he showed “extremely poor judgment” by bragging in print about trades that his trading desk had made under his supervision in his 2007 annual self-evaluation. It should be noted that Salem’s pay was docked not because he carried out illegal trades, but because he left a paper trail.

This document was a source of embarrassment for the company after it was used as a major source in the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ 2011 report into the financial crisis. Salem called Goldman’s $10 billion bet against the subprime mortgage market “HUGE” and “enormous,” in his report.

Citing Salem’s self-evaluation and emails, the Senate report concluded that Goldman Sachs “used net short positions to benefit from the downturn in the mortgage market, and designed, marketed, and sold [mortgage-backed securities] in ways that created conflicts of interest with the firm’s clients and at times led to the bank’s profiting from the same products that caused substantial losses for its clients.”

In order to maximize the company’s profits on its “short position”—or bet against mortgage-backed securities—Goldman undertook a so-called “short squeeze” that was “intended to compel other market participants to sell their short positions at artificially low prices,” which Goldman would then purchase. The tactic was unsuccessful, apparently because other major financial players realized, like Goldman did, that the mortgage-backed securities market was about to implode.

As the Senate report made clear, Goldman’s “short squeeze” was illegal, as “trading with the intent to manipulate market prices, even if unsuccessful, is a violation of the federal securities laws.”

Salem bragged in his self-evaluation that “the market was trading VERY SHORT and was susceptible to a squeeze. We began to encourage this squeeze, with plans of getting very short again, after the short squeeze caused capitulation of those shorts.”

He lamented, however, that even though the strategy was “do-able and brilliant,” the bad news about the mortgage market kept coming in, overwhelming Goldman’s ability to manipulate prices, and Goldman was forced to take a less complex bet against mortgage-backed securities. It was not all that bad for the bank, since Goldman still made billions of dollars betting that millions of families would be driven from their homes as the foreclosure crisis intensified.

Despite the clear and pervasive violations of securities law documented in the report—theoretically enough to land dozens of Goldman Sachs executives and traders in jail—there have been no criminal charges brought against Goldman stemming from its findings.

Salem’s report refutes the 2010 claim made by Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein under oath that “we didn’t have a massive short against the housing market, and we certainly did not bet against our clients.”

In a press conference to announce the Senate Report, committee chair Carl Levin said that Blankfein and Goldman “attempted to mislead the Congress and I believe they did mislead their clients in very significant ways.” He added that he would not “make the determination as to whether or not he [Blankfein] committed perjury,” but said he had turned over transcripts of Blankfein’s testimony to the Justice Department. The Justice Department, predictably, did nothing with the report’s findings.

Salem’s petition comes as Blankfein’s image is being quite consciously rehabilitated. Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz attended a conference on the environment at the company’s headquarters. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Blankfein was “front and center at the conference, and in several television appearances before the event,” including an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose.

In his testimony before the earlier arbitration hearing, Salem bemoaned his pay cut. “Let’s be very clear: I was one of the most sought-after investment professionals in the mortgage industry,” adding, “I had the opportunity throughout the course of my career… to leave for other opportunities.” He subsequently left for the hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management, which manages some $15.7 billion in assets.

The entire episode reads as like a satirist’s parody of the ridiculous and absurd corruption of American society: A Wall Street trader sues his old employer for insufficiently compensating him for the billions of dollars it made from his trading activities in a court that, if it actually followed the law, would hold everyone involved legally accountable.

The whole sordid episode reveals the absurd, remorseless greed that dominate the upper echelons of Wall Street, the criminality that pervades all of its activities, and the complicity of the government in aiding and abetting the banks’ crimes.

Goldman Sachs lawsuit: Wall Street giant is a ‘boys club where drinking, strip clubs and sexism tolerated’: here.

Attorney General Eric Holder, the head of the Department of Justice, returned to Washington Thursday from his tour of Ferguson, Missouri—which was this month put effectively under martial law—to announce a cash settlement with Bank of America over its role in helping cause the 2008 financial crisis by making billions selling fraudulent mortgage-backed securities: here.

America’s 10 Most Hated Banks: here.

World economic crisis, just one man guilty?

This video is called The hidden cost of the Iraq War.

By Greg Palast:

Did fabulous Fabrice really crush the planet?

Wednesday 24 July 2013

You just knew it had to be one of those brie-biting, Sartre-spewing, overly-garlicked Frenchmen who pushed the Earth’s finance system over a cliff.

This week, US prosecutors finally began the trial of the only person on the entire planet whom they have charged with the financial crimes that sank worldwide stock markets by trillions in 2008 and left millions homeless and jobless from Detroit to Manchester.

Amazingly, say prosecutors, it all came down to a single Frenchman, Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre, who was only 29 years old at the time. Even Julius Caesar waited until he turned 51 to bring the known world to its knees.

Here’s the story which his defence team does not dispute. In August 2007, hot-shot hedge fund manager John Paulson walked into Goldman Sachs with a brilliant plan to cash in on the US housing crisis.

He paid Goldman to announce that Paulson would invest a big hunk of his fund’s wealth – $200 million (£130m) – in securities tied to the US mortgage market’s recovery. A few lucky investors would be allowed to give Goldman their billions to bet with Paulson that Americans would never default on their home mortgages.

It was a con. Secretly, Paulson would bet against the mortgage market, hoping it would collapse – making sure it would collapse. All he needed was Goldman to line up the suckers to put up billions to be his “partners.”

It was Goldman’s and Paulson’s financial version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, in which a couple of corrupt theatre producers scheme to suck investors into a deliberate flop.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Paulson & Co worked with Goldman to create the financial equivalent of Springtime For Hitler.

Paulson personally chose the group of mortgages for the fund. Rather than pick the least risky, he deliberately loaded the fund with subprime losers. To polish this turd, Goldman and Paulson paid highly respected risk analysis firm ACA to endorse the selection. The financial whiz-kid and his vice president met with ACA to assure them of the value of the crapola – never telling ACA that, in fact, Paulson would profit if the securities failed.

Based on Paulson’s pitch, ACA endorsed the value of these “synthetic derivatives” securities. This led rating agencies Moody’s and S&P, recipients of fat fees from Goldman, to give the package an AAA rating, marking them as safer than US Treasury notes.

In just a few weeks, by August 8 2008, the securities lost 99 per cent of their value.

The dupes paid up. One, Royal Bank of Scotland, handed over close on a billion dollars to Goldman. Goldman then quietly shifted the loot, minus its fee, to Paulson & Co.

The payout busted RBS. But don’t shed tears. The Bank of England and British taxpayers took over the bank and covered the loss.

The collapse of RBS and the billions lost by others in the scheme fuelled a panic which caused banks in the US to shut their lending windows, refusing to refinance subprime mortgages. Over 2m US families now faced eviction.

Paulson was thrilled. Each default and eviction just made Paulson & Co. richer, altogether pulling in a profit for his hedge fund of over $3.5 billion – more than £2bn – on the Springtime-for-Hitler game. Paulson’s personal earnings on this economic tragedy exceeded $1bn.

I happened to be in Detroit that August, at the home of auto union member Robert Pratt. He’d already received his eviction notice. Like almost all black home buyers in the USA, he was steered to a “subprime” mortgage.

Under a formula years later deemed to be “predatory,” his payments suddenly doubled.

Pratt’s mortgage balance grew to $110,000 (£70,000) on a home worth $30,000. The bank would not refinance, so Pratt prepared to move into his car with his wife and four kids.

Government watchdogs hunted for the financial crimes perpetrators and, discovering the Goldman/Paulson fraud, brought charges against … the French kid.

Goldman had lent Tourre to Paulson to take on flunky tasks, including putting together a 28-page “flip book” to lure European banks into the scam.

In a text message discovered by investigators, Tourre admitted to a friend that he couldn’t understand the insanely complex derivatives Paulson had crafted with Tourre’s bosses at Goldman.

He did, though, grasp that the strange securities were, he wrote, “monstrosities.” A collapse was coming that would “bring down the whole house,” leaving Tourre standing in a ruined planet – but with a fat bonus.

What did the Feds do to Paulson? He received … a special tax break.

Am I defending the Fabulous Fabrice, the French scapegoat? After all, he was just along for the ride. But he was deeply thrilled to carry water for the bad boys. And the charges against him are merely “civil,” meaning he won’t get jail time even if found guilty.

And what about Goldman, whose top brass knew of the entire game? The Securities and Exchange Commission did fine Goldman for its duplicity – a sum equal to 5 per cent of the cash Goldman got from the US Treasury in bail-out funds.

After Goldman’s con became public, its CEO Lloyd Blankfein was hailed as a visionary for offloading mortgage-backed securities before the shit hit the finance fan. Blankfein hailed himself for, he said, “doing God’s work.”

God did well. Blankfein’s bonus in 2007 brought his pay package to $69m (£45m) for the year, a Wall Street record.

Rather than prison or penury, Blankfein was appointed adviser to both the business and the law school at Harvard University.

So here’s the lesson all Harvard students are taught: If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime … unless your booty exceeds a billion.

Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps – Greg Palast investigates Karl Rove, the Koch Gang and their buck-buddies. Includes the foreword A Hostile Takeover of Our Country by Robert F Kennedy Jr, and a 48-page comic by Ted Rall, Tales From The Crypt of Democracy. “The most terrifying book a Democrat could read,” Huffington Post.

Five years ago this month Wall Street almost went under. We bailed it out. Millions of Americans are still suffering the consequences of the Street’s excesses. Yet the Street’s top guns and fat cats are still treating the economy as their own private casino, and raking in even more than before: here.

The New York Times asks why only one banker went to jail for the financial crisis.

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Criminal bankers ‘too big to jail’

This video from the USA says about itself:

On March 8 2013, Elizabeth Warren grilled the Treasury Department about “Too Big For Jail.”

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

Too big to jail

12 March 2013

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder made an extraordinary admission.

Responding to questioning from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who noted that there had been no major prosecutions of financial institutions or executives by the Obama administration, Holder said: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them, when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute—if we do bring a criminal charge—it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy…”

In other words, major banks are so economically important that, according to Holder, it is impossible to prosecute them for criminal activity. They are above the law.

This exchange occurred during a discussion of the Justice Department’s settlement last month with British-based HSBC, the world’s third-largest bank. HSBC had been charged with laundering billions of dollars for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. In exchange for avoiding charges, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion, or roughly two months’ profits. Top US officials explicitly vetoed any criminal charges, even on lesser counts than money laundering.

HSBC is only the latest bank to have received a free pass. Earlier this year, ten financial firms agreed to pay $3.3 billion in cash to settle charges of mortgage fraud: amid the housing market collapse, they had employees fraudulently sign off on thousands of mortgage foreclosures a month.

Last year, the government ended an investigation into Goldman Sachs without charges over its promotion of mortgage-backed securities at the height of the speculative bubble—even as Goldman Sachs bet against the assets itself.

In 2010, the Obama administration reached a settlement with Wachovia Bank on similar charges as those brought against HSBC: laundering billions of dollars of drug money, in this case for the Sinaloa Cartel. The fine was $160 million, less than 2 percent of the previous year’s profits.

Many similar arrangements could be cited. In each case, a check is signed—if there is any punishment at all—and business goes on as usual. Whatever money the financial institutions lose is more than balanced by their take of the $85 billion funneled into the markets every month by the US Federal Reserve.

Bernard Madoff, who admitted in 2009 to running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, told media outlets this week that the government-appointed trustee for his firm’s investors is refusing to act on evidence showing the complicity of major banks in his activities: here.

Yet another Australian government inquiry has allowed a major bank or finance house go scot-free after systematically defrauding or fleecing millions of customers, primarily working people, retirees and small business operators. An Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) report this week into multiple financial crimes committed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the country’s largest bank, recommends no punishment whatsoever: here.